"Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it."
Yesterday, after being notified via an Instagram friend that the HIC un-culled Pro at Sunset Beach was running, I stopped my work and tuned directly in. As per my previous point, the World Surf League does an absolutely terrible job marketing the Triple Crown. I swore, for example, that yesterday’s event was part of it. I thought in the confusion of dropping Pipeline then reinstating Pipeline that the Triple Crown must have been shuffled, kicking off in Sunset instead of Haleiwa.
Of course I was wrong but there I sat watching, marveling at Sunset. It looks like a big wave that you or I could conquer, no? A throaty drop but then long, non-intimidating wall that ejects into the safety of a wide channel. Sunset looks like the big wave for the rest of us but that’s where we’re all wrong.
The place is a nasty kick in the pants, or so I’ve been told. Michael Tomson, one of my very favorite all-time surfers (read more about him in the hit Cocaine + Surfing!) opened my eyes to the terrors. The strong-jaw’d South African is no shrinking violet and made a name for himself fearlessly charging both Pipeline and Sunset during those late 1970s winters. He told me, one sun-dappled afternoon:
I don’t even want to ride Sunset anymore, you know what I mean? It’s just too fucking heavy. The older you get you realize… I’ve nearly died at Sunset twice. At 50 and 52. And this one time I was out there and this set popped up and I said, “Fuck it. I’m gonna go.” And there it was, life on the table, got pounded, held down, thought I was dying right? Next thing is I’m being pulled up on a board. I couldn’t focus on anything, had to go to the hospital. So I had another one like that at Sunset and I have become so careful now because when you fall there it is worse than Pipeline. Pipeline is violent but short. Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it. I get cold thinking about some of the wipeouts I’ve had there.
Does it give you pause? It should.
Back to yesterday, though, Kiron Jabour beat O’Neill Massin, Beyrick De Vries and Slade Prestwich in the final.
Has there ever been a final in any sport ever with better names? I defy you to find and maybe we should hold off on the cull? I’d like to see where this O’Neill is headed. Beyrick and Slade too. It’s like a lost Game of Thrones village!